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The Saratogian Newsroom blog, complete with thoughts and commentary from our newsroom staff and regular posts on happenings around town.

Thursday, September 23

A parting tip from Michele Boxley on charter reform

Outgoing (as in, she is both goal oriented and leaving her post) Deputy Accounts Commissioner Michele Boxley called me today with a parting word on the charter change debate.

She directed me to a national story about a town in Los Angeles Cty., California, where public officials, including a former city manager, apparently weren't too happy with their wages.

Nearly every sitting member of the city council of Bell, C.A., were arraigned on corruption charges after an investigation found they had been writing out illegal private loans with taxpayer money to the tune of over $5 million. They even took out the Mayor's door with a battering ram.

Boxley noted that she thought Bell had switched to a manager-council form of government, the same form being for by Saratoga Citizen, from another form. From what I've read, I am not certain if Bell has ever operated without a city manager.

They did however pull a fast one on voters in 2005 by not mentioning that a referendum to switch from a "general law" to a "charter city" would allow officials to sidestep then-newly enacted state law that limited the salaries of local officials. Only 400 of 40,000 registered residents voted on the measure.

I'm not entirely sure if the Bell scandal can be applied to the current charter debate here in the Spa City. What do you think?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Michelle thank you for service to the city. But go out with some class...
I am not sure why this lone example should overshadow the rest of the country. Saratoga Voters are see right through the BS. Lets look back at OUR own millions that have flown out the door in recent years...Lake Water, Rec centers, Parking Lots, Contracts etc etc...

Drawing on comparisons here are a few

• Nine of the ten recipients recognized by the National Civic League with the coveted 2010 All-America City Awards, which recognizes good government and outstanding civic engagement, and 20 of the 26 communities that made it to finalist operate under the council-manager form of government.

• As of December 2009, nearly two-thirds of the 87 U.S. cities that earned a triple-A bond rating from Moody’s Investor Service operate under the council-manager form of government.

• Among the top 50 Best Small Cities recently identified by Money Magazine as places that scored well in areas families care most about, 76 percent (38 out of 50) of the cities operate under the council-manager structure. The entire list, with forms of government, is attached.

Rank City State Population Form of Government
1 Eden Prairie Minnesota 64,000 Council-Manager
2 Columbia/Ellicott City Maryland 155,000
3 Newton Massachusetts 82,000 Mayor-Council
4 Bellevue Washington 124,000 Council-Manager
5 McKinney Texas 125,000 Council-Manager
6 Fort Collins Colorado 141,000 Council-Manager
7 Overland Park Kansas 175,000 Council-Manager
8 Fishers Indiana 69,000 Council-Manager
9 Ames Iowa 60,000 Council-Manager
10 Rogers Arkansas 57,000 Mayor-Council
11 Plymouth Minnesota 76,000 Council-Manager
12 Highlands Ranch Colorado 98,000
13 Woodbury Minnesota 58,000 Council-Manager
14 Carmel Indiana 67,000 Mayor-Council
15 Eagan Minnesota 64,000 Council-Manager
16 Allen Texas 84,000 Council-Manager
17 Shawnee Kansas 61,000 Council-Manager
18 South Jordan Utah 51,000 Mayor-Council
19 Broomfield Colorado 55,000 Council-Manager
20 Apple Valley Minnesota 50,000 Council-Manager
21 Missouri City Texas 75.000 Council-Manager
22 Irvine California 208,000 Council-Manager
23 Cary North Carolina 130,000 Council-Manager
24 Rowlett Texas 58,000 Council-Manager
25 Gaithersburg Maryland 59,000 Council-Manager
26 O’Fallon Missouri 77,000 Council-Manager
27 Lee’s Summit Missouri 89,000 Council-Manager
28 Waltham Massachusetts 60,000 Mayor-Council
29 Abington Pennsylvania 54,000 Mayor-Council
30 Centreville Virginia 54,000
31 Rockville Maryland 61,000 Council-Manager
CNN/Money Magazine
America’s 100 Best Small Cities
[with Forms of Government]

Rank City State Population Form of Government
40 Chapel Hill North Carolina 54,000 Council-Manager
41 Clarkstown New York 83,000
42 Amherst New York 115,000 Mayor-Council
43 Bolingbrook Illinois 71,000 Council-Manager
44 Coral Springs Florida 126,000 Council-Manager
45 Orem Utah 94,000 Council-Manager
46 Ann Arbor Michigan 116,000 Council-Manager
47 Alexandria Virginia 145,000 Council-Manager
48 Coconut Creek Florida 50,000 Council-Manager
49 Blue Springs Missouri 56,000 Council-Manager
50 Waukesha Wisconsin 68,000 Mayor-Council
The voters will decide sooner or later

September 23, 2010 at 4:48 PM 
Blogger NOW. HERE. THIS. said...


THANK YOU for getting back onto the scene...AND for doing the homework that lesser reporters overlook. Specifically, the California town's scam election allowed them to create a government that DID NOT COMPLY with state law. Period.

The well-publicized and utterly heinous acts of a criminal cabal in California have ZERO bearing on the "Charter Debate" happening here.

But of course, Saratoga's students of civics spring from their seats waving their stories about "Bell," expecting to be honored by the Debating Team... when in fact, they'd be better served by spending more time on their homework.

-Kyle York
"Government By The People"
Trust it to the PEOPLE and the BALLOT,
not the COUNCIL of the CONFUSED

September 23, 2010 at 5:07 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with Kyle and anonymous. Her statement fails to make sense in at least two ways. First, she uses this singular example to criticize council-manager forms of government, however ignores the hundreds of examples where it works great. That fails the logic test. Also, if the current regime feels that it has a good argument against charter reform (it doesn't, but...), fine, then they should stop wasting $100,000 of taxpayer money to hire expensive lawyers to thwart democracy and let's have an honest, open debate and LET THE PEOPLE VOTE. The true similarity between the California scandal and Saratoga is that the powers here are misusing taxpayer dollars to keep the people in the dark and avoid democracy. Stop wasting our money and LET THE PEOPLE VOTE!
Dan De Federicis

September 26, 2010 at 12:03 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Speaking of deputies, it has been evident that the deputy mayor has been "working" at the Greenwich Cemetery on recent weekday mornings.

Deputies are not entitled to OT or comp time, so how is she able to work her "second" job on City time. Now, can you imagine what the mayor would do if a rank and file employee worked a second job while on City time.

She was at the Cemetery office last Thursday and again today, Monday, well after her City Hall office opens at 9:00 AM.

What is her explanation? Unless she was on "vacation" it would seem serious violation.

September 27, 2010 at 12:52 PM 

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